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PROFESSOR CUNNINGHAM & HIS OLD SCHOOL: Here we have a clarinet/sax man from Australia that has become an integral part of the New York swing dance community. With a real affinity for the oldies and a touch that inspires his crew to deliver the real deal with subtle tweaks for contemporary ears, the band recorded live, including vocals, to really show the snap that gets the dancers moving. With a nice cross section of material from rags to swing, this not exactly a journey through the past is a real gasser. High octane all the way, this is fine handiwork from a group of preservationists, not nostalgics. Well done.

FRANCESCA SIMONE/Playground: This 18 year old guitarist has already made her mark by being a member of the Grammy band. Now she makes another mark as jazz/new ager Ray Obiedo hits the producers chair with a bunch of heavy weight jazzbos in tow. With more bite than a lite jazz date should have with an 18 year old in the spotlight, this is a date that'll catch your attention and is worth your time. She's got the kind of chops that'll make you want to be the first on your block so you can say you were playing her back when. Well done.

E.J DECKER/A Job of Work: Claire Daly and the rest of the backing bunch take these songs that hinge quite a bit on the various depressions this country has gone through and make them sound like 30s cartoon music putting Decker's stentorian voice into an interesting setting. Recording once a decade or so, Decker takes steps to make it count and stand out as well. A wild set of quiet fire that has after hours written all over it but it gives you this strange feeling that after hours starts around 6 AM. Certainly a set to keep in mind when you want to encounter something completely different.

RICARDO GRILLI/If On a Winter's Night a Traveler: The nu generation continue to make it's mark. Coming to America from Brazil seven years ago to study at Berklee, this smart, young guitarist started writing out of artistic self defense. Letting his debut show him as a neo master of sitting down jazz, it's presently mindful without being pedantically overstated. Quite a smashing debut, Grilli freely colors outside the lines and perks your ears up to sounds straight jacketed commercial concerns would frown upon but are actually quite tasty and engaging. This is a dandy debut you can count on for late evening listening when you want some music that feels like an old friend who makes things feel right that you don't have to impress. Well done.

DAVE BENNETT/Don't Be That Way: The clarinet playing former member of the Hot Club of Detroit steps out on his own with a swinging clarinet program that won't offend people looking to preserve the old way but does hide some of his outré lights under a bushel---something that will probably be looked into in time for his next release. Playing solidly in the tradition, this licorice stickler can raise a holy racket of joyful noise giving the oldies a new swing in the process. His embellishments almost fly under the radar but they are fully in evidence. A set like this is often tricky business but you can bet this businessman has a load of tricks up his sleeve that you won't be able to wait to encounter. Killer stuff for newbies and old fans of the sound and vibe as well.

OUTER BRIDGE ENSEMBLE/Determined: Right from the opening, loping jazz/funk riffs, you know you can turn your ears over to these pros and let them do what needs to be done. Infusing pop/soul R&B with some swing, New York Latin and Afro beat, the result is anything but the mishmash that laundry list reads like. The perfect record to fire up as the sun is going down and you are just getting your second wind, the fun and funk on parade here is quite grand throughout. Check it out.

GERRY GIBBS THRASHER DREAM TRIO: It's really something to be a youngish drummer playing along side Kenny Barron and Ron Carter and sound like an equal instead of a weak link. With a colorful, diverse set list that let's everyone play to their strengths throughout, this is high octane killer jazz trio work. Impeccably in the pocket throughout, this drummer who has been lurking in the background for too long is really making his move here. It's the kind of killer stuff real jazzbo listeners crave from real jazzbo players and know how to get right out of the box. Hot!

KHESWA & HER MARTIANS/Meadowlands, Stolen Jazz: It should be enough that this record sounds good but the politics behind it is interesting as well. Recorded now that we're a decade into post apartheid South Africa, the youngsters are taking jazz back after years of cultural oppression. Sounding like this could have been produced by Stuff and Antisa Music, it's wonderful jazz that sounds as much 52nd Street as it does African. Recorded for Youssou N'Dour's own label, there's more than enough penumbra going on here if the killer singing and playing isn't enough to get you into the tent on your own. These new kids bring their old souls to the fore for a solidly swinging, good time throughout. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 336
October 3, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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